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'If we get to the point, it will be a disaster': D-FW ICU beds are dwindling, and doctors say there is only one answer

The council reported 66 pediatric COVID patients hospitalized in D-FW. That's the highest number so far. There are only two staffed pediatric ICU beds left.

On Wednesday, the DFW Hospital Council announced a grim milestone in North Texas's fight against COVID-19. 

The region surpassed the 2,500 mark for hospitalized COVID patients. 

"We thought we would be done," said Dr. Joseph Chang, chief medical officer for Parkland Hospital. 

Chang said his hospital only had seven patients hospitalized with COVID just six weeks ago. Now, there are 120.

"We are worried not just for our hospital," Chang said. "We are worried for all Texans."

The state's data shows 14 of the state's 22 hospital regions have 10 or fewer available adult ICU beds. The region that represents D-FW has 74, according to the local hospital council, which is the most in the state. 

RELATED: Texas recruits 2,500 medical personnel to help hospitals with COVID-19 surge 

Chang said the shortage of beds is only made worse by a shortage of staff. 

"Up to 60 beds at any given time in my emergency room are now taken up with patients that actually need to be upstairs in the actual hospitals, but we can't get them there because of our staffing difficulties," Chang said. "What that means is well over a third of my capability to take care of emergency room patients is taken up because of that situation."

In addition to potentially not being able to properly treat patients who need the ICU, COVID or not, Chang is concerned about the start of school. He said a bulk of the patients in his ICU's are unvaccinated, and that the largest demographic of eligible, unvaccinated North Texans are parents of young children. 

"As their kids go to school, they will bring it back home," Chang said. "Have no doubt that that will happen, and I am very concerned for what that means.”

The council reported 66 pediatric COVID patients hospitalized in DFW. That's the highest number so far. There are only two staffed pediatric ICU beds left. 

Chang said the only fix for this oncoming crisis is to stop the spread of COVID-19, so people stop coming into hospitals with it. 

"That’s the way to prevent this hospital catastrophe and disaster from occurring because I am not overstating it," Chang said. "If we get to that point it will be a disaster, because we will no longer be able to fulfill our sacred duty, which is to take care of Dallas County as well as we want to."